Being a better hiker is not about increasing the difficulty of your hikes or training until you can sprint up Everest. It’s about hiking in a way that protects our natural heritage for future generations.
In the Reeks District, you will find yourself faced with views of rugged, coastal mountains, feeling the call to go to the summit. In many ways, hiking can be the ideal outdoor activity. It’s an easy way of getting out into nature. It’s a way of staying fit that doesn’t require expensive equipment, training or even a lot of atheletic ability. It’s something you can do casually with friends or it can become part of your lifestyle if you make it a routine. In short, it’s an outdoor pursuit that can be enjoyed by people with a range of abilities and levels of commitment and can be as easy or challenging as you make it.
Once you have a positive experience hiking, you naturally want to spend more time out in nature and many people who make hiking a regular part of their lifestyle ease into it gradually.
How do you get better at something that seems so casual and that is probably part of your life in the first place because it helps you relax? If ultra competitions or extreme mountaineering aren’t your thing, it’s about becoming a more conscientious hiker.
Here are a few small things you can do to become a better hiker:
1. Hike in the centre of the path
Is there a trail? Walk in the centre of it. It sounds simple, but it’s actually something you have to think about in the moment. When you’ve been hiking for hours and the bottoms of your feet are sore, you are naturally drawn to walking in the grass on the path’s edge instead of the hard, rocky centre. Or if there’s been a lot of rain, it’s just instinct to skirt around the mud puddle in the middle. But walking on the path’s edge widens it over time, making erosion worse, so walking in the centre of the path is a good habit to cultivate.
2. Join Mountaineering Ireland
If you’re based in Ireland, join Mountaineering Ireland. Or join the local mountaineering organising in your home country. Joining an organisation is the best way improve your practical skills. It’s also a good way to connect with a community of people and keep up with the best new ideas about minimising your impact on the environment.
3. Remember to Leave No Trace
The Leave No Trace campaign has done a good job of reminding us that we need to protect nature when we visit the great outdoors. You can check out their website for resources on how to minimise your impact on the environment during outdoor pursuits.
4. Plan Ahead
Many accidents happen when a person becomes so excited by being in the outdoors that a spirit of spontaneity overtakes their good sense. If you’re setting off on an adventure, prepare. Pick a route. Bring a friend and a map.
5. Support Kerry Mountain Rescue
More people than ever are hiking in our mountains. Accidents are bound to happen, no matter how well-prepared and educated we are. Kerry Mountain Rescue is a vital part of our lives in the Reeks District and is run entirely by volunteers, so if you enjoy being out in the mountains, help them out with a donation.
Read more stories on our Notes from the Reeks blog